front lawn before overhaul

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I have to take a few deep breaths just to type this. But I’ve got a LOT that I’m planning to work on in these next few months! Take a look at this preview of one of our biggest (the new front lawn) and sneak peeks of other projects underway.

front lawn before overhaul

Hey folks! It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve checked in. It’s mostly been a little R&R, a little travel, and a whole lot of planning!

  • My sister had an out-of-town bachelorette
  • I’ve been preparing to go out of town this week to speak at the Spring Make conference
  • I have been helping Kyle to understand more about the blog behind the scenes so he can help with more content (he’s coming to Haven this year to learn more about it, too!). Since we’re working on Ruby’s Revival as a joint effort, it only made sense for him to dive in.
  • I feel pulled in a million directions lately. Which pretty much happens every spring just before my birthday, so it’s time for some self-care!

I’ve also been working to get a little more organized before the HUGE push for summer projects begin. And believe me; there are quite a few!

The biggest one, probably by far, is the front lawn. Right now, the lawn is the worst it has ever looked.

the front lawn looks terrible and we need help

It’s not that I haven’t actually tried to do front-yard-sprucing before. You guys have seen smaller projects many, many times. And a long time ago (within the first year of purchasing the UDH), I tried to aerate and re-seed the lawn. It failed.

Ever since, we’ve tried overseeding (like we did the back yard), and the front has had its moments of progress ranging from lots of planting (such as at the mailbox and hanging plants), blocking the view of the trash cans from the street, and even turning an old stump into a planter. But the grass could really only be “good” in that it was mowed. It at least had that.

This year, the mower finally broke. Womp, womp.

pink snapdragons
At least the snapdragons love the yard!

We have a new battery-powered one on the way (woo hoo!) but it was also sort of the straw that broke the camel’s back. It’s been LONG overdue for us to rethink the front lawn. And K has been pushing hard for us to begin after the success with the back yard’s grass.

back yard grass with outdoor light

Now, of course, I had lots of other shit going on in previous years, so I don’t feel at all like it was wasted time. A DIYer’s budget can quickly divide between “things to tackle today” and “things that can be put off.” The front lawn always fell in the “to be put off” column while things like the shed and backyard deck felt much more important.

The time has come (K’s obsession was probably the tipping point; squeaky wheels and such). Overseeding doesn’t seem to be enough to tackle the mess of weeds and pests, so we’re going BIG this spring. We’re going to use heavier machinery, tear up the yard, and really (literally) start from the ground up. We’ve already called 8-1-1 to get them to mark off all of our utilities (an important first step before digging!), so the next step is to go pick up our new equipment!

call 811 before digging

Since we’re basically tearing it all apart, I’m hoping this will clear my mind for better landscape planning for all the garden areas, too (similar to how the leveling in the back yard gave me ideas for the shed, garden beds, etc.). I’ve managed the landscaping in the front just okay; I don’t think the curb appeal is ideal… or balanced… and everything looks kind of disjointed. I really never had an overall plan. I’ll make a few sketches to consider replacing some shrubs, moving things around, etc. (for instance, the Bowers recently shared Katie’s parents’ house and I thought hey, I see some similarities! If you have ideas on where I could find more inspiration (other than Pinterest), please let me know!

front lawn with disjointed landscaping plan

I probably won’t have many updates on this project until the summer reveal (when things have had a real chance to grow — in a good way), so be sure to check in on Instagram to see smaller updates until it’s done. The reveal will also include our list of materials (once we’ve finalized knowing exactly what all of that will be). But you’ll still have more than enough to read about until then with all the other stuff going on!

Backyard Cleanup

Like I said; the mower is broken. We’re relying on the trimmer I received last year, but the grass is definitely overgrowing like everything else! The good news though, is that the grass is growing in so well that it’s choking off weeds and giving us a lush, green space. It’s making me all the more hopeful that our front lawn project will yield similar results when we’re done.

overgrown grass but healthy and green!

Propagating Hydrangeas

I’ve never tried the clipping method to propagate hydrangeas. I’ve pretty much just bent a branch down, weighted it in the soil, and waited until it grew roots. I don’t really even need more shrubs at this point (yet). But, I did a ton of pruning the other day on my existing hydrangeas and got curious to see if I could re-purpose the clippings beyond adding them to our compost. I saved a few, clipped them back, planted them, and now we wait! I should have results in about a month, so I’ll create a tutorial for you if/when I know I did it right! Update: here’s that tutorial!

Primary Bedroom Doors

I’ve been adding molding to the primary bedroom doors and am finishing the paint. When the weather warms and everything outside starts growing out of control, my patience to stay inside and finish coats of paint is almost non-existent. So, this last step is happening very slowly! That tutorial will be coming as soon as they’re ready for reveal.

master bedroom doors with new molding

Garden Seedlings

This will be the second year of having a backyard vegetable garden, which is pretty identical to the first year, so I’m taking lots of extra pictures and footage this time so I can spruce up last year’s post about starting seedlings. Go ahead and give it a read if you’re wanting to learn more about what we use to start them!

backyard vegetable garden beds year 2


I still have 2 more episodes to share about Ruby’s Revival since the last update and am finishing the video edits as we speak. We also went out to the new spot where it’s parked and had a small photo session for a brand I’m working with (rye whiskey!). They seemed like the PERFECT fit as Ruby’s first sponsor, and I got to be my awkward self in front of the camera for a bit. There will be a new article on their website about my interview with them soon (an announcement is actually scheduled for sharing to my Instagram on my birthday!), so I’ll share that when it goes live. We’ve also been heavy in research mode, so polishing begins soon!

Outdoor Sectional

I am champing at the bit to have a new seating area on the backyard deck so I can enjoy my morning coffee. This sectional will be built as separate pieces so they can be rearranged however we want at any given time, so I’m hoping I can start on the first chair in the next week when I return home from the conference! If I only manage to get ONE, I’ll be happy, but I’d really like to have the seating done so we can throw a fall party again like last year.

diy modular outdoor sofa - future plans sneak peek

There are lots of other items on the to-do list for posts and repair, too: cleaning out the garage (which I’ve already begun & still working on long-term), pest control, HVAC maintenance, front porch makeover progress, more shed updates, on and on!

There you have it. Lots to do and I expect it will be a flurry of activity like last year, but I think I’m through my “wow we have SO MUCH to do” phase and am entering the “I can’t wait to get started” phase. Wish us luck that we get it all tackled!

Update: We finished the front lawn! We still have to add garden beds and other cleanup, but you can see the BEFORE and AFTER here:

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  1. You will absolutely love your new mower! It will be lighter and easier to use even if you bag your clippings. The only drawback with ours is that it is smaller in diameter than our old gas mower so there is more passes across the lawn. Not a big deal. Looking forward to your new landscaping plan!

  2. Hi, what about NOT putting a lawn in? Since I live in water-starved California and lawns take so much water, the trend is to put in beds of plants. I would love to do a design for your front yard. I envision beautiful beds of color and texture to accent your home. I think that it would give some interest and accent your house much better than just a lawn. Also adding some hardscape, pavers, and paths to promote interest.

    1. That would be quite a lot of beds and maintenance to weed them, wouldn’t it? I’ve never really seen a front yard this big that’s designed with only beds (and with the humidity, mulch would be a problem for mosquitoes if it’s everywhere). Do you have a photo of a large yard that shows what you mean? We have a small island-type area on the left side that has shrubs (camellias and hydrangeas) that needs to be cleaned up currently. I’d love to see an example though!

  3. When I first started reading your blog years ago I was still an apartment dweller, so I felt like I understood how busy the UDH keeps you…until a year & a half ago when I finally became a homeowner myself and now I have a totally different level of understanding!! Omg, the projects never end! I literally just had contractors here this morning to get bids on a few projects there’s no way I can tackle myself, and there are still what feels like 646 other projects. And sometimes it’s hard prioritizing because several NEED done and others are more cosmetic that just drive me nuts looking at them daily, and it’s a constant friendly-ish battle with my husband over which projects I can take on myself and which ones he has no patience for watching me figure out as I go…and I gave up on the battle over the yard in February and let him hire someone to tackle the weeds & sad, ugly grass (although so far we can see zero difference, so I’m a little worried it won’t end up being worth the cost). So, basically all I’m saying is – don’t feel bad about the lawn getting to this point!!! Lol. Even for someone like you who feels confident tackling SO MANY different projects, there’s always gonna be one that gets put off. Otherwise our brains explode. :) Good luck with all the spring/summer projects!

    1. Thanks! I think it’s one of those things where you want to do EVERYthing but you have only so much mental space. And I like to divide that between projects I know I have to do and the projects that make me get up and actually get to work out of anticipation. I think a mix is the best way to go, since it fills the proverbial cup to keep going. Good luck on your projects and congrats on the house!

  4. Can’t wait to see how the hydrangeas turn out. I’ve got a couple and would love to propagate to spread around the yard. As for your landscaping plans, Better Homes & Gardens used to have free landscape plans on their website that are great for inspiration and a little guidance!

    1. Thank you for the reminder! I remember bookmarking one of those gardens for the side of the house a LONG time ago. I’ll have to do some searching for them again!

    2. Hydrangeas are SUPER EASY to propagate – clip some minimum 4″ tips and stick them in a glass filled 2/3 with water (clip all leaves that would be under water). Put in a shady (north facing) window and wait. In a couple of weeks, roots will appear. Plant in a 6″ pot filled with moist potting mix when roots are about 2″ long. Keep watered. I have saucers under mine that are kept filled. I keep them in the shade.

      1. From what I’ve read, it’s recommended to not propagate hydrangeas with the water method. Something about how the root systems are much weaker. I haven’t tried it, but a few that I’ve done in the soil seem to be established, so I’m thrilled to plant a few more or give some away once they get big enough!

        1. I’ve been doing it for years and never had a problem. Maybe because I’m in Deep South (35 miles N of New Orleans). I only take 2 or 3 cuttings and I’ve only lost one that I remember. I use this method for gardenia bushes as well. All my hydrangeas are in pots and stay outdoors all year long. The gardenias don’t seem bothered by the horrible clay soil around here but almost everything else struggles (hence the pots). Rotting leaves, coffee grounds, banana peels and veggie scraps help a lot, but it took ten years for my front flower bed area to become actually useable. Planted daylily (divided) plants, which seemed to love it because they quickly became big clumps. Then some butthead neighbor helped himself to over HALF of my daylillies! Had 37 when I went to work, and 15 when I came home. This is why I don’t buy plants. I gather seeds and do cuttings.

          1. Sorry to hear about your neighbor! The old owner of my house had a bunch of daylilies, too. I got rid of them because they aren’t my style, but they were very hardy!

    1. Yeah, I’m not liking the bright green anymore. I don’t know what to put in their place, though.

      1. Gardenias would be great – wonderful fragrance in the evening (when its strongest). No care bushes, they love humidity. Bloom heavily after lots of rain.

  5. Howdy,
    Just found your blog, love the UDH concept. Quick suggestion for your front yard: try overseeding with white clover or micro clover. I did a lot of research on clover and lawns (this means two or three days of being obsessed with finding information about the practice), and it looks like a win-win. The clover loves sun and partial sun, nourishes your soil, self-propogates (or invades/spreads, depending on your point of view), makes your existing grass grow healthier, and reduces your need to mow. Where I live, in MA, it also does not need to be watered.
    Not certain where you live, so not 100% certain how clover will work for you. Also, not everyone loves clover in their lawn; your mileage may vary. Something for you to consider with a few Google searches on ‘micro clover’ and ‘white clover for lawns’. I don’t have a personal report yet, I *just* spread two pounds of coated, inoculated clover seed (inoculation means it’s covered with an inert mix that carries a bacteria that helps the clover germinate). But I am hopeful.